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Eric Spitznagel Archive

Eric Spitznagel

A Thousand Words: Falling in Love With My Grandfather’s Mistress

July 17th, 2009
by Eric Spitznagel

SAVANNAH, GA-

I was visiting my 93-year-old grandmother in southern Florida, helping her clean house for the summer, when I stumbled across something I was never meant to see. It was a shoebox hidden in the back of a closet, covered in warnings like “Ant Poison” and “Dangerous, DON’T TOUCH!” I pulled it down and peered inside. The box was filled with letters, most so old they looked like they’d been soaked in tea. I opened one and started reading.

“Dear Bill,” it began. “It’s been two weeks and already I miss you terribly. I have such an aching desire for you, I feel as if I might die.”

They were love letters, and judging from the addressee, love letters written to my late grandfather. There was only one thing that didn’t make sense. The letters were all signed by somebody named Betty, and my grandmother’s name isn’t Betty.

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Eric Spitznagel

Falling Out of the Family Tree

July 1st, 2009
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

Sometimes you think you know everything there is to know about your family, and then one day you get the rug pulled out from under you. You find out that you’re adopted. Or your grandfather had a few felony convictions he kept on the down-low. Or that incredibly hot nerdy girl with the vintage glasses who works at the used bookstore downtown just might be your second cousin. For me, it was something less earth-shattering but no less dramatic.

As it turns out, I’m not nearly as German as I thought I was..

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Eric Spitznagel

Politics and Tijuana Donkey Shows

March 9th, 2009
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

There’s absolutely no reason why I should get along with my father-in-law. We are as fundamentally different as two people can be. I adore the man, but I’m constantly amazed that we’re able to spend an evening together without one of us breaking a bottle over a table and lunging at the other with the shards.

To be fair, there are plenty of good reasons for me to enjoy his company. I love that he refuses to shower indoors, preferring to wash himself with a hose, prison-style, in the back yard. I love that he’s the only military veteran I’ve ever known who owns every album ever recorded by Freddie Mercury. I love that he shares my affection for Florida biker bars where you can get sloshed on Rum Runners for less than ten bucks and watch ZZ Top’s shorter, fatter twin play sloppy covers of Steely Dan songs. And I love that he adores children almost as much as he despises cats.

If it was just feline bigotry, cheap rum, and Queen - which, now that I put them all together, kinda sounds like the theme of the best gay pride parade float ever - I could fake my way through any conversation with him. The trouble starts when he talks politics.
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Eric Spitznagel

What We Talk About When We’re Trying Not To Talk About Death

January 27th, 2009
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

The woods of northern Michigan can be unseasonably cold in July. Even when the temperature reaches 80 degrees, the moment you venture into the dark, Tolkien-esque forest, it might as well be mid-February. It’s damp and unpleasant and the ground is still frost-bitten from the winter. It’s where happiness goes to die. You can feel the chill in your blood, particularly if you’re just wearing a wet bathing suit and flip-flops.

There are many, many places I’d rather be than wandering through this god-forsaken Midwestern jungle. I’d rather be swimming in Lake Michigan, for instance. And that’s exactly where I was just ten minutes ago. I should still be out there, floating in the blue water and trying to assure myself that the ominous-looking shadow swimming just below me isn’t a bull shark. Instead, I’m on an expedition to find a man with a brain tumor.

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Eric Spitznagel

Audience Pointing and Rock Horns: The Road to the White House

November 2nd, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

If you’re one of those “undecided” voters who still isn’t sure how to cast your ballot this Tuesday, let’s settle it once and for all, the way god and the founding fathers intended, with rock horns and audience pointing…

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Eric Spitznagel

My Final Thoughts When I Thought The Plane Was Crashing

September 18th, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

This is not turbulence. Something’s wrong. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. This can’t be happening. I’m too young to die. Okay, maybe not young, but I’m not old, either. Thirty-nine isn’t old, it’s just…

Oh Jesus Christ, I’m thirty-nine years old! On the downslide to fucking forty! How the fuck did that happen? Did I just stop paying attention? I swear to any divine entity that’s listening, if this plane doesn’t crash, I’m making some big changes. First thing, I’m getting rid of the solitaire on my computer. And then no more afternoon drinking. I don’t crack a bottle until 5pm… no, 6pm… no, no, 8… 9…. okay, no drinking at all until the weekend. No more wasted potential. It’s time to get serious with my life!

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Eric Spitznagel

Imagined Internal Monologues

September 2nd, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

For almost a decade, my brother and his wife lived with two Pugs, which they named Papagena and Papageno. (Yes, after the characters in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.) In April of 2006, they gave birth to a son.

The Papas were not amused.

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Eric Spitznagel

Cinderella’s Muffstache, and Other Topics Best Left Undiscussed When Children Are Present

August 13th, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

I have nothing against Disney World on general principle. I’m just genetically disposed to hate all theme parks. They remind me of airports, except without the complimentary sodas. There’s a lot of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then something mildly exciting happens, and then more waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then your ass starts to hurt. At least when you leave an airport, you have better odds of not being in Orlando.

My biggest complaint with Disney is the lines. The only reason I’m going to stand in line for two hours is for a re-re-release of Empire Strikes Back with a bonus Boba Fett fight sequence and some gratuitous Carrie Fisher nudity. I sure as hell won’t do it for a chance to sit in a rusty mine cart submerged in oily water and gaze at animatronic mannequins dressed like drunk pirates.

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Eric Spitznagel

Is That a Pork Chop In Your Pants or Are You Just Happy to… ? Nope, That’s Definitely a Pork Chop. Ooooookay Then.

July 23rd, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

I’ve spent most of my life in big cities. Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco. And for some reason, I’ve always felt safe. I’m not sure why, because I’ve lived in some unsavory places. I’ve rented apartments in neighborhoods that people with college educations tend to avoid - neighborhoods populated by surly hookers who won’t take no for an answer and guys with swastikas carved into their necks and elderly women suffering from night terrors and a seething hatred of “negrahs”. But I never felt like any of them would ever kick down my door or accost me as I waited for the bus. They were just local color, and if you caught them at their creative peaks, pretty damn entertaining. Spend a leisurely Sunday morning at your local slum diner, munching on a rubbery omelet and listening to a man with an eyepatch explain to his waitress how the mayor is spending our tax dollars to create a doomsday laser, and you suddenly remember why you never bothered to get cable.

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Eric Spitznagel

The Beat Generation: 50 Literary Euphemisms for Masturbation

January 19th, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-

1. Blurbing yourself

2. Burying the lede

3. Coaxing Salinger to come out and play

4. Coming up with a gripping plot twist

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Eric Spitznagel

Leaving the Shire

January 2nd, 2008
by Eric Spitznagel

(no longer) SONOMA, CA-

Not long ago, I received a letter from the City of Sonoma, informing me that my license to operate a rickshaw business had expired. This came as something of a surprise, as I wasn’t aware that I had a rickshaw business.

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Eric Spitznagel

Driving Through Chicago with a Trunk Full of Dead Dogs

December 12th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

Growing up, I thought I might want to be an animal doctor someday. Not because I had any interest in veterinary medicine. I was just a fan of Dr. Dolittle, the 1967 musical with Rex Harrison. As far as I knew, all veterinarians wore top hats and sang their prescriptions and had exotic patients like a llama with an extra head coming out of its ass.

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Eric Spitznagel

Memories of Punctuation: The Comma

September 29th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

My introduction to the tyranny of grammar came from an unlikely place. In my senior year of high school, I wrote a semi-fictional short story for my girlfriend. It was about us, or at least a couple that vaguely resembled us, if we were ten years older, considerably more well-read and regulars at fashionable Manhattan bars. It was a piece of crap, not to mention a total rip-off of Woody Allen. But I’d cast her in the Annie Hall role, so I thought she’d look past the obvious plagiarisms and appreciate the sentiment.

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Eric Spitznagel

The Sweet Smell of Rejection

August 24th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

I’ve been dumped by a lot of women in my life, but not one of them has ever thrown a drink in my face.

I’m not sure why this should matter, but it does. When my relationships have fallen apart, it’s usually been quiet and civilized. They’ll calmly explain their reasons, or just stop calling me until I figure it out on my own. It’s never been a big dramatic blow-up. Just once, I would’ve liked one of them to end our relationship with a bang, like throwing all of my clothes out on the lawn, or walking over to me at a public gathering and slapping me hard across the face, screaming something like “You worthless son of a bitch!”

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Eric Spitznagel

Useless and Far Too Personal Simpsons Trivia

August 6th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

Bart’s full name is Bartholomew Jojo Simpson. Milhouse’s full name is Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten. Krusty the Clown’s full name is either Herschel Schmoikel Krustofski or Herschel Pinkus Yerucham Krustofski, depending on which episode you believe.

* * *

I have a great-aunt in upstate New York that I see several times a year, and I still refer to her as “You know, what’s her name. It starts with a P.”

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Eric Spitznagel

An Open Letter to Iran Concerning Its New Porn Worker Execution Policy

June 20th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

Hello, Iran.

So I hear you’ve got some issues with porn. Actually, word on the street is that you want to make it illegal. Your parliament had a meeting last Wednesday and apparently decided that the production of a pornographic film is a crime punishable by death. Is that right? I just want to make sure I’ve got my facts straight. And is it true that the vote was 148-to-5 in favor of shooting all porn stars in the back of the head? Wow. That’s a pretty overwhelming victory. What happened to the five guys who were pro-porn? Did they stand up and give a really inspired speech like, “What this nation needs is more chicks with dicks and hot cum-gargling action?” I mean before they were taken out back and stoned to death.

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Eric Spitznagel

I’m Reasonably Certain That My Dad Has Been Reincarnated, If That’s Even the Right Word, as a Dog

May 17th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

Like every summer, my brother and I drove up to visit our dad’s grave. And like every summer, we waited to see if the dog would show up again.

It’s not the kind of thing we talk about with a lot of people. What could we tell them? “Well, sometimes my dad comes back as a dog.” No, they don’t want to hear that. It makes them uncomfortable. And they never know what to say. “Oh… how nice… well, when you see him again, tell him I said hi.”

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Eric Spitznagel

Hobo Balls (And Other Things That Shouldn’t Be Compared to Wine)

April 26th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

“This wine tastes like hobo balls,” I said, loud enough for the entire room to hear.

Even as the words left my mouth, I knew that it was a horrible, horrible mistake. It’s not the sort of observation that a civilized person should make, and certainly not while partaking in a posh wine tasting. The other party guests just stared at me, too stunned to respond. I smiled and tried to laugh it off, saying something like, “Whoops, wrong crowd.” I hoped that my unfortunate remark would eventually be forgotten, but the damage had already been done. I’d crossed a line and there was no turning back. I had just demonstrated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was a man unable to hold his liquor.

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Eric Spitznagel

Here Are a Few Things That’ve Made Me Feel Old Today

April 9th, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

I spent an entire afternoon watching back-to-back episodes of “I Love The 80s” on VH1, waiting for them to mention something, even in passing, that actually mattered to me. I finally gave up in disgust, and rummaged through a closet until I found my tattered copy of the Replacements’ “The Shit Hits the Fans” bootleg. But listening to it didn’t make me feel smugly superior to the mainstream as it’d done so effectively during my teens. Instead, it just sounded hollow and distant, like hearing an echo from very, very far away.

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Eric Spitznagel

Ghostwriter Blues (or “Being Ron Jeremy”)

April 3rd, 2007
by Eric Spitznagel

SONOMA, CA-

I sat in the car for several minutes, just watching the crowd slowly file into the bookstore. I wanted to join them - a part of me even felt like I deserved to join them. They were there to see Ron Jeremy, the plump porn star who was in town to promote his new autobiography, The Hardest (Working) Man In Show Biz. It wouldn’t have been completely bizarre for me to stroll inside and take a seat next to Ron. After all, I had devoted a year of my life to helping him write his book. But I also knew that doing so would’ve been a little awkward. It was Ron’s moment in the spotlight, and there was really no point in my being there. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was like a surrogate mother who had decided to crash her kid’s birthday party.

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